We have just watched a programme on the Art Nouveau in Vienna, with the inevitable huge presence of Klimt. I love his work and have tried to copy it on occasion with laughable outcomes. In addition to my completed version of Eve, I have done two birthday cards based on Klimt paintings, one of the inevitable naked lady with a glorious bottom, and one very chaste image of Schubert playing the piano for to singers ( I just drew the singers) I think the original was destroyed, like many of Klimt’s paintings, in a fire at eh end of the Second World War.
This is an oddity. A large portrait and not how it looks. It is drawn on ordinary white cartridge paper using a very messy technique I have only used this once. The paper is laid on the floor and compressed charcoal is rubbed and rubbed and rubbed into it. For about 15 minutes, This results in a jet black surface, far blacker than any coloured paper can match. Then you draw on it with white chalk, which gives a pale grey line on the charcoal. Incredibly fragile surface. Just brushing your finger across removes all trace of the white, it is just swallowed by the charcoal. I managed to transport her flat back home and framed her under glass immediately. If I shoved her into teh plan chest along with everything else she would have disappeared the first time I pulled her out.
I painted in oils for quite a long time, but never really came to terms with the medium. I think it is just too chemical based for me. One of the big advantages of oil paint is that its slow curing allows you to work and rework things, to the extent of scraping it all off and starting again. But I like to work fast so that is of limited benefit. Classes also tend to do a lot of still lifes, which I find boring, or working from photos, which I just don’t like much. These two show just a big bunch of flowers, which I do like, and a self portrait of a grim looking me, which proves some point or other.
We had a week in Cornwall 10 years ago, staying in Polruan and just wandering round the area with our old dog, who discovered that she really liked being a pub dog. For once I did a number of sketches on the ground, which are still good memories.
I’ve seen this lovely ketch, the “Bessie Ellen” several times since in different ports. I hope to go on her myself one day as she is a commercial charter boat. This was the first time I saw her and judging by the speed they raised the sails, it was the first time most of this crew had seen her either.
Polruan harbour. I was outside sketching. The dog was in the pub eating crisps.
On the beach. The Cornish coastline is just spectacular. We were back in Mylor last September and are going again next July. Almost perfect sailing and the pubs are delightful. The old dog, sadly, is no longer with us to beg for crisps.
Still trawling back through my old archives. I can’t remember how long ago I drew this but I have always liked it. I think it is the diagonal composition that just gives it a bit of lift. I must add that the model wasn’t pregnant, she was just that shape. I think it has risen back into my conciousness because I actually saw her in town last weekend, living a different life now as far as I could judge. All done in coloured chalk in a pretty short period of time.
I took these photos in 1977, when I lived in the middle east for a year. Both are on the beach in Abu Dhabi. I doubt that this area even exists any more. They were building the dhows directly on the sand, almost entirely by hand except for a huge horizontal band saw which was used to cut up teak logs for planks. These are “real” photos, taken on 35mm colour slide film in the gorgeous Olympus OM2 that I bought out there. Hard to remember how long you had to wait to see the photos. I would take time choosing my framing, but once the film was full, I had to send it back to Europe to be developed and then have the slides sent back to me. Anything from three weeks or more before you saw the result. Despite that, we tended to get fewer pictures, but more good ones.
What is fascinating about these beautiful boats, from a European boat builder’s view point, is that even though the hull is perfectly symmetrical, as it has to be, the planking either side does not match at all. The planks are fitted together first, and then the internal framing cut to fit inside. The exact opposite from what we do here.
I called this the Fisherman’s mosque, and looking on Google maps, I think it is still there, but no trace of dhows anywhere near it. I actually won third prize in an architectural photography contest with this shot. I won the first prize as well, for a photograph of the Eiffel tower, which sadly I cannot find any more. It is probably in a box in the attic. I was very proud of it, as the judge was a French photographer, who said he must have seen 10,000 pictures of the Eiffel Tower, but he had never seen one like that. Sadly, we may never see it again now.
I have done many paintings based on photographs, but on the whole I am not pleased with them. This one is an exception, because it is actually based on a collage of several photos. We were wedged into a crowd to watch a temple ceremony in Kerela in late 2003, and there was no way I could draw. The camera could only pick out bits and pieces, which I used to try to reassemble the scene many days later. I was pleased with the result as it did give a feel for what the event was like.
I don’t often photograph items in museums. I prefer to look at them and buy a professional photography of it if there is one. But these two Egyptian sculptures that I have just seen in the Neues Museum in Berlin are amongst the most beautiful I have ever seen, and they weren’t included in the postcard collection. So I went back to take my own. Nefertiti is gorgeous, but I loved these more